Of all aspects of animal care at the zoo, there are few which fascinate the media as much as animal escapes. The prospect of wild animals running amok, stampeding across the grounds, or of a dangerous beast stalking unwary members of the public, holds intense appeal for the newshound.
This week, there were two animal escape stories, taking place on opposite sides of the Atlantic.
Okay, so this one I heard ended up not being that accurate. Only some of the fifty baboons made it out of their enclosure. That being said, baboons terrify me like few other animals, and the thought of one of them running around the zoo - let alone a gang of them - is horrifying. All of the monkeys were eventually rounded up and herded back into the enclosure.
The Salt Lake City's Hogle Zoo had an escape of its own - a Pallas' cat - small, long-haired felid from Central Asia - was on the loose for a few days. Zoo staff were aware that it was on zoo grounds, having set camera traps around the facility and seen it sulking around the zoo. Knowing it is there and finding it are two very different things, however. Few animals are better at hiding than small cats. Fortunately, the cat was caught in a live-trap baited with mice and is safely back under the care of the zookeepers.
Image courtesy of Hogle Zoo
In both cases, it is worth noting that the escapees did not go far. It's especially noteworthy in the case of the of the Pallas' cat, which was loose for a few days. This is not surprising. In most cases, zoo animals do not venture far from the places that they have come to identify as home. In any case, it's good to know that everyone - human and animal - is safe and sound.